Fresno State had its first scrimmage of fall camp Tuesday and didn’t waste any time getting freshman running backs Ronnie Rivers and Jordan Mims involved. Both made plays running and catching the ball and continue to climb in a crowded position group.
In a live practice period before the scrimmage, Rivers reeled in a 34-yard pass from Chason Virgil. Mims in the scrimmage had a 50-yard touchdown catch and run, eluding a tackle by cornerback Jaron Bryant to get into the end zone.
Mims also had a 22-yard touchdown run.
“They’re doing really well,” coach Jeff Tedford said. “They’re picking up the playbook. They’re well-rounded backs as far as pass protection, they’re smart, they don’t make mental mistakes. They catch the ball well, they have speed, they have vision and they’re tough, They really have everything that you’re looking for in a running back.”
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Heart breaker – Wideout Delvon Hardaway, who worked his way back from a knee injury before his sophomore season, suffered another knee injury and is out for his senior season.
Virgil solid – Former Oregon State quarterback and Dinuba High star Marcus McMaryion is out there, and Fresno State is in contention to land the immediately eligible graduate transfer.
That didn’t seem to faze Virgil, the Bulldogs’ returning starter.
Working with the No. 1 and No. 2 offense, he got the unit he was running into the end zone six times. Included was a 30-yard TD run, scoring off a block downfield by wideout Derrion Grim; a 4-yard scoring run in which he used a block by tackle David Patterson to get free; and an 11-yard touchdown pass to KeeSean Johnson.
“I liked our energy,” Virgil said. “We kind of came out slow at first just going through the individual stuff at practice, but when it was time to play we picked it up. We made a lot of good plays. There are going to be things that we have to learn from on film, but the positive is we made plays and scored the ball.”
JC transfer quarterback Jorge Reyna also worked with the No. 1 and No. 2 offenses.
As for McMaryion, who announced Sunday he would be transferring out of the Pac-12 program but left open where he might be headed, Tedford offered that “we know that he’s available. Obviously somebody we would be interested in. So we’ll see what happens.”
Asked and answered – The Bulldogs wanted to get a feel for what junior Dejonte O’Neal could do, whether the 5-foot-7 running back can be more than a third-down back.
His first rep in the scrimmage came from the 3-yard line and behind the No. 1 offensive line, and he blasted into the end zone on an inside run.
“Shorter backs, they’re hard to see in there sometimes,” Tedford said. “They’re quick, they can hit a hole and they play with low pad level. Sometimes that’s an advantage for those guys like that can stay low and hide behind the line and hit holes.”
The Bullard High grad also made a nice one-handed catch along the sideline.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
Fresno State 2017 schedule
Home games at Bulldog Stadium
Sept. 2 vs. Incarnate Word, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Alabama, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sept. 16 at Washington, 6:30 p.m. (Pac-12)
Sept. 30 vs. Nevada, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at San Jose State, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
Oct. 14 vs. New Mexico, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 at San Diego State. 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Oct. 28 vs. UNLV, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 vs. Brigham Young, TBA (ESPN networks)
Nov. 11 at Hawaii. 8 p.m.
Nov. 18 at Wyoming, 11 or 11:30 a.m.
Nov. 25 vs. Boise State, 12:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Other key dates
Saturday, Aug. 12: Scrimmage 2
Saturday, Aug. 19: Scrimmage 3/Fan Appreciation Day (open to public)
Tuesday, Aug. 22: Classes start